Understanding Your Prescription

Making Sense of Your Glasses Prescription

So you've completed your eye exam and you now have a copy of your prescription for glasses. Trying to understand it can be confusing. It can look like a hodgepodge of strange words, abbreviations, and numbers. While it isn't necessary to earn a degree in optometry to interpret it, it's a good idea to have a general understanding. 

Fortunately, with a little explanation it will begin to make sense. The following article will provide a simple breakdown of basic terms, abbreviations, and numbers. 

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Understanding Key Terms and Numbers

The following key terms and abbreviations are found on standard glasses prescriptions, starting with the columns from left to right:

  • RX/Eye- Both terms are used interchangeably.
    • OD: This refers to your oculus dexter, or right eye, as seen from the vantage of the optometrist when he assesses you. 
    •  OS: The oculus sinister refers to the left eye.
    • OU: Oculus uterque refers to both eyes.
  • Sphere (SPH): The term used to describe the overall lens power required to correct your vision. A plus ( + ) sign refers to distance corrections for farsightedness (hyperopia),  whereas the minus ( - ) sign is for nearsightedness (myopia). Lens power is measured by diopters. Ex. In the OS row,  + 4.00 means that the left eye needs 4 diopters of correction for farsightedness.
  • Cylinder (CYL): The next column addresses the cylinder number which indicates how much eye curvature you have. Not everyone has this condition, which is also known as astigmatism. The eye shape of people with astigmatism is sometimes likened to the general shape of a football, as opposed to the basketball-shaped eyes of those with no curvature.

Common Questions

They will not. Contact lenses have a different prescription because of how they are measured (fitted) to match the precise size and diameter of your eye.
Multifocals: These feature multiple focal points in the lens for different aspects of vision, such as distance vision, intermediate, and reading. Bifocals: These types of glasses have two prescriptions in the lenses. The top part is for regular vision, and the bottom is for reading. Bifocals are also multifocal. Progressive Lenses: These are also a type of multifocal glasses with the added advantage of them not having lines separating the sections. These glasses gradually shift their functions from the top of the lens to the bottom, allowing the wearer a more harmonious integration of the different features.
Opticians are professionals who offer services such as helping patients choose glasses or contact lenses, fitting lenses into frames, and polishing and cleaning contact lenses. They cannot conduct eye exams, write prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses, or treat or diagnose eye conditions like optometrists.
Understanding Your Prescription
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Reading Your Prescription

Understanding how to read a glasses prescription can seem daunting at first. As we have hopefully shown you in this article, once you understand the basic meaning of key terms and abbreviations, it makes a lot more sense. Always speak with your optometrist if you have any questions or concerns about your current prescription.

Testimonials


At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


Cynthia Norton

Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


Steve Fay

Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


Mary K.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


Peter G.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


Kinkie F.

I have always found Dr Kavner's work, expertise and wisdom of the highest caliber. As one of the fathers of OT, occupational othomology, his depth and breadth of knowledge about the eyes' health and wellbeing of the patient is exemplary. Cannot say enough good things about him.


Allen B.
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